Battlemind

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ODA CDR

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Walter Reed has been hard at work trying to overcome issues related to long combat tours. Check out this site, I'd like to know what other steely eyeds think of some of this info. Does'nt do much for me but maybe for some of the youngsters out there.

www.battlemind.org
 

Paddlefoot

flying under the radar
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It sounds like a step in the right direction, but like a lot of things, they've seemed to etch things in stone, to include giving it the name Battlemind.

I have heard of some good work being done in this area, which involves people undergoing therapy sitting in front of a computer screen and actually reliving, virtually, some of the things that occured and that they witnessed.

I can't remember who is running it, or what it's called, but Vets interviewed have stated they felt they were getting some good results.
 

pardus

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I cant help thinking we could be doing more about this pre battle, preparing people for combat differently.

no I don't have the answer.
 
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poison

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Ever read 'On Killing', by Lt. Col. David Grossman? Anyone who was, is, or will be in the military should read it.

http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316330116

From Library Journal
Grossman (psychology, West Point) presents three important hypotheses: 1) That humans possess the reluctance to kill their own kind; 2) that this reluctance can be systematically broken down by use of standard conditioning techniques; and 3) that the reaction of "normal" (e.g., non-psychopathic) soliders to having killed in close combat can be best understood as a series of "stages" similar to the ubiquitous Kubler-Ross stages of reaction to life-threatening disease. While some of the evidence to support his theories have been previously presented by military historians (most notably, John Keegan), this systematic examination of the individual soldier's behavior, like all good scientific theory making, leads to a series of useful explanations for a variety of phenomena, such as the high rate of post traumatic stress disorders among Vietnam veterans, why the rate of aggravated assault continues to climb, and why civilian populations that have endured heavy bombing in warfare do not have high incidents of mental illness. This important book deserves a wide readership. Essential for all libraries serving military personnel or veterans, including most public libraries.

ON KILLING is the study of what author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has termed "killology". This odd term describes, not killing between nations, but the exact circumstances involved when one individual ends the life of another individual, with the primary focus being on combat situations. I've sometimes wondered how I (someone who has never been anywhere near armed conflict) would fare on the frontlines, as killing another human being seems like an almost impossible psychological task. As Grossman casts an eye over historical reports of combat, he found that, apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking that. During the First and Second World Wars, officers estimated that only 15-20 percent of their frontline soldiers actually fired their weapons, and there is evidence to suggest that most of those who did fire aimed their rifles harmless above the heads of their enemy.
Grossman's argument is carefully researched and methodically laid out. He begins by filling in some historical details, discussing the statistics for shots fired per soldier killed for the World Wars and the American Civil War. It's a refreshing and enlightening look at war that dispels a lot of misconceptions. An average solder in those wars was extremely reluctant to take arms against fellow humans, even in cases where his own life (or the lives of his companions) was threatened. Not to say that any of these people are cowards; in fact, many would engage in brave acts such as rescuing their comrades from behind enemy lines or standing in harm's way while helping a fellow to reload. But the ability to stare down the length of a gun barrel and make a conscious effort to end a life is a quality that is happily rare.

The book continues on then, detailing what steps the US Army took to increase the percentage that they could get to actually fire upon their enemy. By studying precisely what the soldier's ordinary reactions were, the officers were able to change the scenario of war in order to avoid the most stressful of situations. The soldier found up-close killing to be abhorrent, so the emphasis was countered by inserting machinery (preferably one manned by multiple soldiers) between the killer and the enemy to increase the physical and emotional distance. Every effort is made to dehumanize the act of killing.

Grossman spends a great deal of time discussing the trauma that the solder who kills faces when he returns to civilian life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in those veterans who returned from Vietnam. Those soldiers had been psychologically trained to kill in a way that no previous army had gone through, and there was no counteragent working to heal their psychological wounds. Grossman takes great pains to discuss how horrifying the act of killing is, and points out how detrimental it is to one's mental health. When the Vietnam veterans returned home to no counseling and the spit and bile of anti-war protestors, the emotional effect was astounding. Most of Grossman's thesis is supported by in-depth interviews and psychological profiles, but it is the story of the Vietnam veterans that comes across as the most disturbing.

Much of the chatter about this book seems to revolve around the final section, the discussion about our own civilian society. While this is understandable, I actually preferred reading the earlier portions, simply because they opened my eyes to a lot about the military that I had been previously ignorant of. I think it would be a mistake to concentrate solely on the argument's conclusion as it rests heavily on the case that has been building. In any event, the book eventually develops its final conclusion: the methods that the military uses to desensitize its soldiers to killing are also being used in our media, but without the proper command structure that keeps people from killing indiscriminately. In a military situation, firing a weapon without proper authorization or instruction is a very serious offense, and this is drilled into the mind at the same time as the desensitization. Without this safety, there is nothing to hold back the killing instinct, and this is one of the main reasons why the homicide rate has increased so dramatically.

Now, I'll say right off the bat that I was partial to this line of argument before I read the book; I think that children repeatedly exposed to such images would almost certainly become blasé towards extreme violence. But Grossman's book gave me so much more to think about. It isn't just a Pavlovian force at work here; Grossman points out many reasons (both stemming from society and the changing family structure) for why young people of today seem much more able to kill than their parents and grandparents were.

I was honestly surprised at how strong of a writer Grossman is. He manages to put forth his argument without boring the reader. By its very nature, a lot of what he discusses is repetitive and disturbing, but the subject matter is so compelling that I didn't mind. Grossman is very logical in his approach and his argument is a powerful one. I highly recommend this book, especially for people like myself who have never experienced war at close quarters. The summary I (and others here) have given is simply not nearly adequate to capture all of Grossman's thorough contentions. ON KILLING made me think harder about a subject that I hadn't given a lot of thought too before. The information and research here is invaluable.
 

pardus

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Ever read 'On Killing', by Lt. Col. David Grossman? Anyone who was, is, or will be in the military should read it.

http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316330116

I have (somewhere) a book by a British author (ex Royal Marine, Falklands war) about PTSD, killing etc... great book, can't recall the title now.

I beleive after living long term in 4 different countries that alot of the reaction to combat is a result of the social upbringing of the soldiers long before the military, and the military training of the soldiers (understandably) reflects the social attitudes of each countrie's society.

Personally I think conscripting someone into a war is a terrible (but at times of course absolutly nessasary) I want to go to war so would have no problem with going but to see a civilian with no interest and possibly/probably an abhorrance to going to war, sent against their will, well I feel really sorry for them, that is a terrible thing to have happen. :2c:

As for killing in time of war, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to do it, It would mean nothing morally to me. That said, I haven't done it so I have no idea how I would react after the fact, I don't think it would bother me, but untill I do it, i'll never know :2c:
 

gunslinger

Shaddup ya bloody vikings
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That said, I haven't done it so I have no idea how I would react after the fact, I don't think it would bother me, but untill I do it, i'll never know :2c:

A man who is being honest with himself normally knows whats in his own heart. If you dont think it will bother you it probably won't.
 
O

ODA CDR

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the funk

Gunslinger, I would have agreed with you a couple of years ago. I was a team member/leader for 17 years. Did'nt miss a fight and volunteered to go when I was'nt asked. I lived for it. Now that I'm out I guess I have more time to reflect and I think thats where the problems start. Guys that are active don't have alot of time to think about deep issues, at least I did'nt. Now that I'm pretty much broke (body, not bank account), I can't do much physically and it depresses me which starts the funk. I don't think any amount of powerpoint presentations or briefings or other guys war stories will fix it.
 
L

Looon

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Now that I'm pretty much broke (body, not bank account), I can't do much physically and it depresses me which starts the funk. I don't think any amount of powerpoint presentations or briefings or other guys war stories will fix it.
I hear that.:)
 

gunslinger

Shaddup ya bloody vikings
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QDA CDR, I understand what you are saying. At least as much as I can without walking a mile in your boots.

I had at least ten more lines to this reply and I deleted it all.

Thanks for your service and sacrifice.
 
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rangerpsych

Guest
fuck, i bolo'ed land nav at hooah school on purpose because 9-11 happened and I wanted to go shoot fuckers in the face.

little did I know I'd catch a nasty bug called PTSD down the line.

Fuckit, i'd do it again in a heartbeat.. my wife'd kill me for it though. LOL
 
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